Published: April 19, 2022
Review by W.A. Demers, Photos Courtesy Eldred’s
EAST DENNIS, MASS. – Eldred’s hosted a two-session spring sale, April 7-8, which totaled just above $1 million with an 82 percent sell-through. A total of 308 unique buyers were successful in their bids and registered bidders numbered 800 with Eldred’s and 5,000 with various online platforms.
On the sale’s second day, an oil on canvas landscape painting that was cataloged in the manner of Sanford Robinson Gifford (American, 1823-1880), realized $59,375, going to the trade. Titled “Indian Summer,” the luminous work was signed and dated lower right “S.R. Gifford ’63” and measured 17 by 26 inches, framed. Provenance listed Henry Luce III, by descent to Leila Hadley Luce and then given to the consignor, a Palm Beach, Fla., collector. Noted for his mastery of creating light and soft atmospheric effects, Gifford was a leading member of the second generation of Hudson River School artists and a highly regarded practitioner of Luminism. “There was a lot of speculation about it,” said Josh Eldred, the firm’s president, with regard to the Gifford painting. “It was presented to us as in ‘in the manner of;’ there was some debate among the experts about whether it was right or not. So we decided to offer it as ‘in the manner of’ and let the market dictate it.”
Session two of the two-day spring sale was also notable for a Chippendale blockfront bureau attributed to Henry Rust of Salem, Mass., which brought $36,250. In exceptionally grained Cuban mahogany, it had an old surface, possibly original, was initialed on back in chalk “HR” and illustrated in Israel Sack’s Good, Better, Best. It sold to the trade, bidding by phone, either for stock or for a client.
An Eldred Wheeler desk met its high estimate at $8,125. The Twentieth Century piece in strongly figured tiger maple presented twin pedestals with four drawers each, the top with central drawer, and tucked inside that drawer was the original Eldred Wheeler paper label.
The first day saw a pair of white marble cherubs ascend to $28,750. The late Nineteenth/early Twentieth Century figures comprised a boy holding Cupid’s bow and arrows and the girl holding an arrow, both standing atop heavily floral- and rockery-carved columnar bases. At heights of 76 inches each, the pair weighed in at more than 450 pounds.
More fine art performed well on the second day with Susan Catherine Moore Waters’ (1823-1900) “Herding Sheep Before the Storm” hitting $18,750. The Burlington County Historical Society claims that Waters will best be remembered for her large and painstakingly executed sheep paintings, which established her as one of the foremost American sheep painters of the Nineteenth Century. This 24-by-36-inch oil on canvas was signed lower right “Mrs. Susan C. Waters” and signed verso and labeled “Bordentown, N.Y.” There was a label on the stretcher for F. Weber & Co., Philadelphia and the painting was housed in a period tiger maple veneer frame.
Fetching $10,625 was a Joseph McGurl (b 1958) painting out of a private Connecticut collection. “A boat passing Nixes Mate, Boston Harbor, under a brilliant sunset” was signed lower right “Joseph McGurl” and measured 12 by 16 inches. The contemporary American Luminist is a signature member of the Plein Air Painters of America, an elected member of the Guild of Boston Artists and a fellow of the American Society of Marine Artists, and has won significant awards for his artwork He grew up working with his father, muralist James McGurl.
Additional highlights of the sale included a Northwest Coastal trade flintlock musket, which brought $5,313; an A.E. Crowell large-scale wood duck drake selling for $4,688; and a Keshan rug going out at $5,625.
After the sale, Josh Eldred, president of the firm, said he was encouraged by the strength of the furniture category overall, with strong prices across the board for choice period pieces, like the Rust bureau, to fine reproductions by Eldred Wheeler.
Also after the sale, Thomas Wilmer Dewing’s (1851-1938) oil on canvas painting, “The South Wind,” which was passed in the sale, was purchased privately for just below the low estimate ($120/180,000).
Prices given include the buyer’s premium as stated by the auction house. The next sale, a three-session Asian art auction, is set for April 27-29. For information, 508-385-3116 or www.eldreds.com.
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